Rajinikanth (born Shivaji Rao Gaekwad 12 December 1950) is an Indian film actor, media personality, and cultural icon. He began acting in plays while working in the Bangalore Transport Service as a bus conductor. In 1973, he joined the Madras Film Institute to pursue a diploma in acting. Following his debut in K. Balachander's Tamil drama Apoorva Raagangal (1975), his acting career commenced with a brief phase of portraying antagonistic characters in Tamil films. After establishing himself as a lead actor in a number of commercially successful films, he began to be referred to as a "superstar" and has since continued to hold a matinée idol status in the popular culture of Tamil Nadu. His mannerisms and stylised delivery of dialogue in films contribute to his mass popularity and appeal.